AFL Round 9 – GWS v West Coast Eagles: Without Prejudice

It is a  truth, universally acknowledged, that a fledgling club must be in want of a star recruit.

However little known the feelings or views of such a player (or his manager) may be on his first approaching contract negotiation time, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the new franchises and the media, that he is considered the likely property of the team in exchange for a few likely youngsters and first round draft picks.

“My dear GWS Supporters” said their Coach in an open letter to them before the game. “A superstar has come to Skoda. This could be a great thing for Western Sydney”

“How so?” asked wiser heads. “How will this affect them?”

“I fully intend in securing a trade for him. We have all the 2013 draft picks available to use for him.  If I can bring two experienced players to GWS at the end of the year, I will be well pleased.”

The sun was shining at Skoda when NicNat and his party of Eagles ran through their banner to await the young Giants. Within seconds he commanded the attention of the crowd, leaping high at the bounce, sweeping the ball towards his goals. Within two minutes they have scored twice.

But one cannot mistake the joy apparent when Setanta O’Hailpin kicked his goal to equalise. He roars, he dances, his fist pumps the air. The cheer squad chants “Here come the Giants”. This Assembly is no longer just about the visitors.

But the joy is short lived. NicNat’s leap and bat away means the Giants usual effectiveness for clearances is blunted. The Eagles swoop and bang, bang, bang. Forwards the quality of Kennedy, Darling and Le Cras being fed by Shuey, Priddas and Gaff. Too many goals, too easily.

“Come Dean, you must go and ruck. We have plenty of players down forward, you had much better ruck” the direction may have been. For it mattered not whether NicNat or Cox, the battle in the middle was won early and from there went the game. By halftime there was a significant advantage in hit outs and clearances to the Eagles. The usual five goal advantage at quarter time had increased to ten goals at half time.

And the Giants’ defence inside the Eagles 50 was not handsome enough to tempt anyone. Spills and wayward kicks. Miles kicking to Mohr in the goal square intercepted for a sneaky goal. They took delight in vexing us and had no compassion for our nerves.

Come the third quarter though, there was no respecting their elders and (definitely today) their betters. Cameron (agreed to be a future star) marks, settles and kicks a goal. Passes stick. Gaps close. The football is contested by both teams. But the crowd gasps then roars when NicNat leaps to take a mark and then kick for goal. The quarter evenly balanced until at the siren we all wait for the video referee. Was it Palmer or a hand?

And into the fourth; the quarter when the majority of the Giants bodies do not keep up with their spirit. Ward leads by example, and several of the younger players continue to push, to run, to not give up.   But the Eagles press on.  It’s clinical.  Another five goal or more advantage quarter; another 100 point victory.

The Giants’ greatest asset is their potential. When more quarters are put together like their third quarter then they will be in contention for finals. But now they lack the depth to counter injury in the ruck and across the defensive fifty. We see glimpses of the champions they will be in Cameron and Coniglio. We see the improving confidence and skill of  Ward and Scully. But today we saw West Coast’s spark in the middle, and the ball being drilled relentlessly forward.   A team of veterans and youngsters; champions and skilled, perfectly blended.

The shades of Blacktown are unlikely to be graced by NicNat but still Sheeds and co will go about the business of making the best football marriage for the team. Today’s performance (and to a lesser extent, today’s crowd) confirmed that a fledgeling club is in want of a superstar.

Our pride put aside, all offers considered. Without prejudice of course.

WEST COAST 7.4 14.9 18.12 23.17 (155) GWS 2.1 4.3 8.4 8.7 (55)
GOALS West Coast: Darling 5, Kennedy 5, Hill 3, LeCras 3, Naitanui 2, Gaff, Sheppard, Kerr, Shuey, Butler. GWS: Cameron 3, Ward 2, Smith, O’hAilpin, Scully.
BEST: West Coast: Naitanui, Masten, Kerr, Priddis, Shuey, Gaff, Darling. GWS: Adams, Coniglio, Greene, Cameron, Ward.
UMPIRES Stewart, Fila, Burgess.
CROWD: 6324 at Skoda Stadium

Malarkey Medal: Naitanui (WC) 3, Kerr (WC) 2, Priddis (WC) 1

About Kath Presdee

Just a suburban girl, just a suburban girl. Lawyer by day, wife and Mum by night. I experience the agony and the ecstasy of sport, having followed Cronulla all my life, the Brumbies all their life and as a foundation member of the Giants.

Comments

  1. Peter Schumacher says:

    I must say that despite my own prejudices it was a pleasure to pleasure to read such a positive report which was fair to both teams and which provided something worthwhile to think about in respect of the future of GWS..

  2. Peter_B says:

    Great wins by your Brumbies and Sharks, Kath. Don’t get greedy now. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.
    As for Sheedy pinching NicNait “tell him he’s dreaming”

  3. I have followed the Eagles since their inception in 1987. I have seen the highs and the lows. What GWS is going through should not dispel the true believers. Give them time and give them the support and they should make you proud. At the least, I would hope they make the Derby (pronounced Darby over here) something of a blockbuster.

  4. Brad Carr says:

    Well written, Kath. Though I must add that I admire your optimism about GWS’s potential, and I didn’t come away feeling the same.

    This was the 2nd time that I’ve journeyed up from Melb to watch my beloved Eagles play GWS – it appealled to my ‘inner nerd’ in wanting to be able to see my team play at different grounds. Unfortunately, that’s about all I got out of the experience (apart from a great weekend seeing Sydney friends, and terrific weather).

    On-field, from a WCE perspective, I thought we were about 4/10. Very low-intensity game, sometimes error-riddled, a long way off what’s needed to match it with the top sides. That we could be 4/10 and win by 100 points says loads about where GWS are at.

    Off-field, I thought it was ever worse. I turned up, looked around and commented that “I’ve been to dinners with more people than this.” A few more rolled in the gates, and I revised that to “conferences” instead of “dinners.” Not only the small numbers, but I thought it was extremely flat, devoid of passion, and really nothing short of embarassing during the promotions for (i) The Long Walk (there would have been barely 1,000 people in the crowd at the time to applaud the Walkers on their lap), and (ii) the great Steve Waugh doing a charity promo at quarter-time in front of a Sheffield Shield-type crowd.

    When we played last year out at Blacktown (I think the crowd was 10,000 then), I noticed that whilst the crowd was mainly orange, it was all blue and gold at the train platforms afterwards – I wondered if this meant (i) whether the GWS fans all lived in Blacktown, or in places not near a rail line like parts of the Hills district, and (ii) whether they would bother going to Homebush. I don’t know the GWS membership demographic well enough to answer (i), but (ii) seems to be a clear NO.

    Whislt WCE fans from central/easter/northern Sydney turned up and swelled the crowd, it says volumes that Sydney Railways didn’t bother putting on direct trains to Sydney Olympic Park – you had to change at Lidcombe and use the normal scheduled Saturday services. As it was, Sydney Rail were spot on in predicting the demand for the day.

    I would like to see GWS succeed, and I’m part of the minority that has argued that going in there was a good idea, conscious of long-term population trends. But my take from the weekend is that they are a lot further away from reaching that success (or even credibility) than I had realised.

    From my own perspective, the day was the most disappointing, uninspiring 100-point victory I have ever sat through (and yes, “sat through” is how it felt). I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant or greedy, but it was just really unsatisfying and… boring… Knowing that everyone else will beat this mob by 100 (and therefore we have to) meant that the numerics of the margin was the only thing a little bit interesting.

    Kind of sad when that’s what footy has become. On the plus side, my AFL Membership got me in for free – so at least it was fair value.

  5. Kath Presdee says:

    Brad – If that was West Coast at 4/100, either I haven’t appreciated the gulf is between the top 8 and the bottom 8 or you’re being a bit hard on your team. The WCE were clinical – and with the gifts of some of our defensive men (one of whom thankfully is not listed this week) it is no wonder. I’d hate to see them really trying if that was the case; but I’d hope it wouldn’t be against what is still basically a largely U21 side with less than 50 games apiece.

    I’ve been watching GWS since they started at Blacktown in the NEAFL so I’ve seen some of them develop as 17 year olds to 20 year olds and watch their game get better. But they’re still kids. I want to see this team in 2015, 2016 – hopefully with someone of the calibre of NicNat and definitely stronger defenders. Never thought I’d say that I’d miss Chad Cornes, but being down Cornes and Davis and Gilham not stepping up has meant that what had been the makings of a credible defensive arc have gone. Most of our kids playing defence would be lucky to start in most other clubs (no offence to their skill, it’s more because of their age, strength and lack of experience), let alone be required to play week in, week out, such is our lack of depth in that area.

    But you can’t hold the crowd’s attention on just a promise. I was disappointed by the crowd size too. The crowd for this game was less than that at Blacktown last year, but not by that much. Last year was their second game in Sydney and it was early in the season. There was promise and there was novelty. This year we played our first game in Sydney – where we did put up a good fight – and didn’t come back until Round 7, on Mother’s Day, at lunch-time and got flogged. If you’re a casual supporter (and they haven’t been around for long enough to build a critical mass of those yet) why would you go to see a game when the result is pretty much known, except for how much?

    Call it perverse, but we’re most likely to get out best crowd at Skoda when we play Melbourne. At this point, we’re in with a chance to win it.

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